Monday 30 May 2016

A Rose For Gaza

Gaza is a garden full of roses.
Stone roses.
Rock roses.
No petals to crush and bruise
to release their fragrance.
Only dust.
Dust and the stench
of death.
No green space left.
No sweet tranquility,
peace or quiet.
No escape.
No garden of Eden here.
No gateway to paradise.
Rubble and rock roses.

So I shall plant a rose for Gaza
in my green space,
in my tranquil garden.
I won’t bruise it,
just gently sniff its fragrance
and hope that one day
fragrant roses will bloom again
in the garden of Gaza.

What else can I do?

Saturday 28 May 2016


I feel such a bright energy flowing,
zipping through my veins.
I can’t wait to move with it,
to uproot myself,
to be transplanted and reborn,
to recreate myself 
at the time when all of nature
is recreating itself and starting afresh.
I will be reborn too in another place.
I’ve done it before and felt the new buds open,
bursting and shooting into a new life.
I've felt the excitement of the new spaces,
embraced the interest in the new peoples’ faces.
And then..

I’ve opened up my blowsy petals and
let my heart show through
to turn towards the summer sun,
not believing it will destroy
my bloom,
make my petals fade and fall
when the shock of the new wears off
and the fresh green shoots start to brown,
and prepare for the season of wrinkles,
which always follows,
as my life folds out as before.

Soon I’ll be getting ready 
for the ice of winter
in this new place.
A new place, but
with the same person in it.
To change where I am is the easy part.
To change who I am is difficult, hardly possible.
But without this change, 
nothing will change,
except that summer will have gone,
winter will surely follow fall
and spring will be a long way away.

First published in Pilcrow and Dagger, May 2016

Friday 27 May 2016

 The Funeral of Bosco Jones

Twenty years ago Bosco Jones died after a long and purposeful life.
His children, (long departed from their roots), returned.
“Don’t worry, Mum”, they said, “we’ll see to everything.
We’ll make all the necessary arrangements.”

They arranged a splendid funeral with a vicar and hymns and flowers.
A lot of people went, for Bosco had made an impact during his life.
They left the doors open so that all those outside could hear
And join in the proceedings.

There was nice churchy music and an atmosphere of peace and serenity.
The vicar began the service with a lot of talk of God and Mrs Jones stopped crying.
She started to look around her and take in the proceedings.
She seemed somewhat agitated and alarmed.

Then she stood up and shouted at the vicar, shaking her fist,
“I’m having none of this!” she cried,
“My Bosco didn’t believe in all this claptrap and nonsense!”
Some people cheered in agreement and she sat down again.

The vicar, a dedicated professional, began to continue the service.
Mrs Jones stood up and began to sing ‘The Internationale’.
Most people joined in and no one could hear the vicar
Who became very angry.

“It was a riot”, Nina said, with a wry smile.

When they had finished singing, they started to shout at the vicar.
He shouted back telling them that he was throwing them out 
And they were never to come into his church (or outside it) again.

Everyone cheered, but no one left and Bosco made his last journey
To the sounds of ‘Bandero Rosso’ and ‘Joe Hill’ sung very lustily,
Which he would have liked a lot.

“It was a riot”, Nina said, casting her eyes upwards.

Afterwards, they all enjoyed eating the food that the children had organised.
And drinking the drink and arguing and shouting at those
With whom they had political differences and at those 
With whom they were in complete agreement.

The vicar stopped by and apologised to Mrs Jones, who was very rude at first,
But then happy to sit down and explain her position
While he listened.

People still talk about the riot at the funeral of Bosco Jones

First published in Blue Pepper, May 2016

Thursday 26 May 2016

Paris in the Spring

We set out hopefully,
hitching our way to Paris,
in the spring.
And we made it, even
found the recommended hostel near Laumiere,
Though a little disconcerted to be
met with a closed door
covered in signs which read 
‘FULL’ in every known language,
we went in anyway.
‘Of course we’re not full 
at this early hour’.
‘Anyway, no one is ever turned away’.
They were planning a demonstration,
a rehearsal for May 1968, 
but of course,
none of us knew that then.
We could join if we wished, 
but of course,
we were too early,
even for the rehearsal.
It was only April.
Just three days
in April
in Paris.

We had coffee on the Champs Elysee
and were shown Notre Dame 
by someone we met there
and then sat on the steps of Sacre Coeur
to eat our French bread lunch.
We held up the traffic at the Arc de Triumph,
triumphantly succeeding in crossing the roads.
And at the hostel the next day
we did our best to be helpful,
getting up early (too cold to sleep),
and cleaned the kitchen and the floor
for the first time in many years.
Then we sat on the stairs 
and said ‘No Pasaran’ to everyone, 
until it had dried,
explaining carefully in languages we did not speak, 
why this was necessary. 

It was a just long weekend our April in Paris.
It felt like it would last for ever.

First published in Literature Today, Memories Anthology, May 2016

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Barcelona Sandals

Standing in the Andorra snow
shivering in our Barcelona sandals.
Glad of a lift down to Foix
as darkness was falling.
And the driver knew a hotel,
Hotel du Centre.
Very grand
and full
of people looking down
long noses.
But the driver knew the owner
who was a kind man,
a nice man.
So we shouldn't worry 
about the cost, he said.

A lovely room
and in the morning,
We must eat
the owner said.
Warm bread and jam.
Coffee with hot milk
which tasted sour.
But I don't like
the taste of milk,
so most likely
it was sweet.

And then the bill.
But there was no bill.
Save it for the journey,
the owner said.
A kind man,
a nice man,
who believed
the driver's story,
whatever it was.

A few years later, 
we returned to Foix
and went to find 
Hotel du Centre.
But it wasn't there.
No one knew it.
It didn't exist.
Did it ever exist?
Did any of it happen?
Or did we somehow
a memory 
from our 

First published in Scarlet Leaf Review, May 2016

Monday 23 May 2016

Little Sister Lost

I woke in the sunshine
and salvaged my book
from the damp grass.
I stretched..
I looked around..
She wasn’t there.
I looked behind the stone,
then under it.
A pretty blue mouse
from under,
but no little sister.
Then I thought 
of the rabbit hole under the tree
where the scraggy, stripy cat
had spat and snarled at us 

I found the tree
and the rabbit hole.
Was she down there?
It was too small for me to go.
I shouted down
and scraped
and scraped
and scraped
to make it bigger.
A rabbit would do better
with it’s big feet.
A rabbit,
like the one standing behind me
with such big strong feet.
Help me.
Help me.

He sniffed disdainfully
and removed one hand 
from the pocket of his purple fur jacket
to brush the soil I’d splatted
on his white velvet breeches.
Such big strong feet
for digging.
Help me.
Help me.
Help me.
He gave me his spade.

I started to dig
and dig
and dig.
Dig till it was big
enough for me to go
Scrabbling down.
looking for the light
and my little sister.

First published in Silver Birch Press, Fiction series, January 2016

Sunday 22 May 2016

Turning to Ice
Snowflakes lit by sunbeams
blowing gently,
fragile as shadows
making rainbows in the sun.
Smiling in the soft light.
So soft.
So soft.
Catch them quickly in your hair
to melt them.
Time has past and
they're already harder now,
even though the sun
is still shining and smiling.
Blindingly bright.
Crunchy crystals.
glistening still.
Shining like diamonds,
but harsh
in the sunlight
while it lasts
Cooler now as
the light starts fading.
The surface is melting.
Shiny where the sun
still catches,
but fading,
giving way to ice.
Losing it's smile.
And we're skidding, sliding
beyond control.
slipping away,
blinded by tears of ice.

Saturday 21 May 2016

My Father’s Son

I never knew
my father’s son.
Even though
I met him once,
or maybe twice, 
I never knew him.

And then I met
his son. 
Caught him 
in a net.
Held on to him 

And, I found
that he hadn’t left early,
my father’s son.
He’d waited for me,
for a long time.

And so I found him,
my father’s son.
When he was 
just ninety six,
I found him.
But I was too late
to know him.

At ninety five,
he was already dead.

So I never knew him,
my father’s son.

First published in Scarlet Leaf Review, May 2016

Wednesday 18 May 2016


One day soon they'll try to dig up your dreams.
You'll be dead by then,
unable to protect them
any more.

They'll let you rest in peace, but not your dreams.
They'll want them for sure,
they'll want them.
They'll want them to try and find you,
to try and discover who you were.

They'll dig them up, scrabbling amongst the dirt,
seeing what they can find.
Digging up the dirt
to see what they can find 
in there.

They'll discard this piece here, another piece there.
Dross from the dried up remnants,
They'll hang on to the moist bits.
The juicy bits are worth further analysis.

You may be in there.
In your dreams.

Someone else will scrabble to catch 
the dry pieces,
those fragments of dreams thrown away.
The little pieces blown away in the air.
Little snippets,

But there are flakes of gold hidden there.
I hope they don't find them.

First published in Anti-Heroin Chic, February 2016

Tuesday 17 May 2016


I saw him flapping around in the grass,
one wing at an improbable angle.
I chased him,
caught him,
wrapped him 
in my cerise and navy school scarf.

Jack, jack, jacko..

Then it was a bus ride to the charity vet
who set the broken wing,
wrapped it
in plaster,
a heavy pot.
He was subdued on the bus home,
but still managed to greet my mother,

Jack, jack, jacko.

He perked up later after tea
and explored the living room
placing bits of straw artistically
and decorating them with pooh.
Which was why 
he had to live 
at school,
only for weekends.

Jack, jack jacko!

But he enjoyed bus journeys now
and greeted all the passengers,
hopping from shoulder to shoulder,
waking them up with a wang from his pot,
nibbling an ear here and a nostril there.
Most were 
but some 
were not.
He was close to becoming
the only jackdaw to be banned
from public transport.

Jack, jack, jacko!!

And then disaster!
the wing had not healed.
There was decay
and gangrene
and the trimming
of his lovely long feathers
to balance him.
No more hopping
from shoulder to shoulder,
well, maybe later
with practice!
But no more 
prospects of a wild life
for Jacko

Jack, jack, jacko...

And no more home with me
said my mum as the school holidays
loomed threateningly.

Jack, jack, jacko.....

But nearby the vet,
a budgie had died
and it’s owner,
had a need and
it was love at first sight
for both her and Jacko.

Jack, jack, jacko!!

There were photos 
in the press.
He was famous!
A local hero!

Jack, jack, jacko!!!

First published in Scarlet Leaf Review, May 2016

Sunday 15 May 2016


Ripples of time
gathering pace.
Working up to the wave 
that crashed into me, 
propelled me forward
and now sucks me back.
Thirteen decades.
To a place beyond my imagining,
so tidy now after the crash.
Gentrified now.
Rippling gently.
But before,
in my father’s time.
There was beer mixed mud
and crowding children.
And smells of horses
and metal.
Fire and metal work.
Children who 
would leave behind
the mud,
and country 
for the dust
and smog.
For the city grime.
Streets and factories.
More fire and metal.
And what then?
Still poor.
What then?
What secrets lie in those ripples
of time
washing over me

Saturday 14 May 2016

On Our Bikes

We only had two bikes between the five of us.
Mine was a very grand drop handle barred affair
given by our next door neighbours’ daughter
when she finally left home.
Roger’s was an old ‘sit up and beg’ with a bit of rust
and brakes that (unknown to his mother) did not work.
Our parents supported us on our faltering two wheels,
first in our back yards, then in the street,
where we taught the rest.

Then we were off! 
On the road!
Brakes or no brakes,
it wasn’t a problem!
Just made the hills
more or less exciting
and there was little traffic.

All the roads on our estate were allowed,
only the bottom road,
the main road bordering the countryside, 
was forbidden and we obeyed.
We didn’t ride there.

Then a catastrophe struck.
It was a perfect storm.

The combination of the steep hill, 
the junction with the bottom road,
the bike with no brakes, 
traveling unavoidably, at full speed, 
and a car passing along the bottom road
at that precise moment,
all came together.

It was a catastrophe that took Roger straight 
into the side of the car and over the top.
The bike was almost undamaged,
but Roger was tearful.
He wasn’t hurt,
just fearful 
of his mother,
as the driver insisted on 
taking him home and would 
listen to no argument against this.

After shouting a lot,
his mother took an axe
and chopped up the bike
until bent and broken enough
to satisfy her, then
she put the pieces 
into the big dustbin.
She saw us watching.
“Don’t you amalgamate round here”, 
she shouted, shooing with her arms.
It was her favourite expression 
and usually made us laugh, 
behind her back, 
but not now,
with this tragedy.

We had only one bike
between the five of us.

First published in Silver Birch Press, May 2016

Friday 13 May 2016

Thursday 12 May 2016

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Dandelion Seed by Lynn White

Friday 6 May 2016


You spoke to me. 
A smile on your lips
and a sadness 
behind your eyes 
to match my own.
I could see it,
recognise it.
I knew it well.

“Hello you”, I said.
“Hello me?”

A gesture,
a question in your voice,
laughter caught 
in the back of your throat
and eyes that smiled.

At least


Tuesday 3 May 2016

The Driving Instructor

I needed rather a lot of driving lessons.
My lack of a sense of direction didn’t help.
Nor, did my occasional confusion
between right and left.
But, coming up to my test,
my new instructor was sympathetic.
We could go for a Sunday drive, he said.
I could have a free lesson
and maybe a drink after.
Well, why not?
He told me a story over the drink.
He’d been in the war in Singapore.
Such horror.
And conscripts all.
In the chaos 
an enemy soldier had shot his dog.
Shot her.
Killed her,
Such horror.
And conscripts all.
But, it was alright in the end,
he’d ‘got’ the one who did it.
‘Got him.’ 
Shot him! 
Killed him, 
Such horror.
And conscripts all.
The life of a man for the life of a dog.
Both shot.
Both killed.
Both dead.
It was the life of the man I valued most.
And I said so
using a lot of words.
Yes, rather a lot of words
loudly spoken.
So no more free lessons,
but I passed my test.

First published in Silver Birch Press, Learning To Drive Series, May 2016

Sunday 1 May 2016


Car, train, plane or ship.
It's your choice when
you visit the green fields 
of France or Belgium.
And you can stay close or take 
an optional excursion.
It's your choice.
Well, there's money to be made. 
And you'll be moved to marvel 
at the spectacle of it all
stretched out before you.
The bright green fields over fed 
with mashed body parts and blood 
sucked out by vampires' fangs.
Look, see the white teeth crossed
in their rows upon rows
and stand proud with respect.
Snap, snap,
click, click.
Take a few pics
to join to join those of 
last year's beaches, cathedrals 
and other art installations.                                                                                
lest you forget.
Respect them in their death                                                                                                                                                                                         
the ones who died                                                                                             
for whatever the country.
Respect them in death,
The yes sir, no sirs
of war and of peace.
The ones with no choices.
Remember them.
And remember the vampires.
They’re living still,
as vampires will.
Sucking the blood,
stirring the pot
and making the money.

Crossing Over

Running downhill, on and on,
the orange sun bearing down
on me.
Scorching me, 
burning me up
I come to a river cold with ice.
Icy water flowing too fast.
Too fast.
Faster than I can run.
Flaming under that bridge.
A bridge to somewhere 
from here,
from where I am.

But where is here 
or there?
And is the bridge real
or a bridge of dreams.
Or, a bridge for my dreams,
leading nowhere.

If I cross over
will I plummet
into the nowhere
on the other side.
Shall I try?
Or shall I stay here
looking for the light
I find it.


It’s that time when
Day closes, 
shuts up shop
draws down the blinds,
so that Night can fall
And it does,
every day,
shutting out the light
Day breaks 
and the sun shines
rising up 
through the dark,
waiting for Night 
to drag it down 

The Keys of the Kingdom

The kingdom had so many keys,
keys to its doors,
keys to its gold,
keys to its time,
keys to its secrets.
Nothing moved without a key.
Everything was controlled.
Nothing was free.
Then came the Great War of the Keys
and the kingdom collapsed.
Its doors stayed open,
its secrets exposed.
Its gold melted away.
Its locks grew rusty.
Time stood still.
All it had valued 
rotted away,
into a heap
of useless keys.

First published in With Painted Words, February 2016